The results from the 2,024 polling stations in yesterday's elections for the leadership of the Histadrut labor federation began trickling in at 11 P.M. on Tuesday night. The final tally will only be known Wednesday. There seems to have been a substantially larger turnout than in 2007, when only about 30 percent of those eligible cast their ballots.
More than half a million Israelis, members of the Histadrut, were eligible to vote in the election, which has the incumbent, Ofer Eini facing challenger MK Eitan Cabel, a former Labor Party chairman.
Eini's associates projected an air of optimism over his reelection bid, encouraged by indications of the larger turnout. Eini supporters spoke with confidence of victory for their candidate, saying the only real question was the margin of victory. A large voter turnout, they said, would only increase the margin.
Eini has been at the helm of the labor federation since 2006, when he was appointed to replace Amir Peretz. Eini was then elected to the post by Histadrut members.
Nearly all unions around the country came out in support of him ahead of yesterday's vote, at least officially, and the Histadrut chairman urged unions to get out the vote on his behalf. There were complaints, however, that in some workplaces the effort had gone too far. The Ometz good government advocacy group filed a complaint with State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss after the union at Israel Aerospace Industries put buses at the disposal of company employees to transport them to polling stations in a bid to get out the vote for Eini.
But Likud MK Haim Katz, who heads the aviation firm's national union, said no campaigning was conducted on the company's grounds, nor were campaign posters put up there.
"Distances at Israel Aerospace Industries are great and it would be a shame to waste work time going to the polling place on foot, four hours in each direction," Katz said, adding that in any case most employees did not take the bus, but walked instead.
In his own bid for support from Histadrut members, Cabel made reference to efforts to get out the vote for Eini. "Take their transportation, eat their sandwiches, but in the polling booth, vote for me," Cabel said. "Even campaigners wearing Eini T-shirts are telling me in a whisper that they support me."
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